For many scholars (and indeed, many students), nothing quite matches the excitement of investigating primary-source material related to their research projects. Newspapers, diaries, maps, photographs, manuscripts, ephemera, and other archival materials grant us a peek into the past and illuminate our understanding of private lives, political developments, and pivotal events as they occurred.
In years past, you could only review the materials you could visit in person or retrieve from willing institutions. But today, we have the luxury of examining material from the world’s libraries, archives, and repositories from the comfort of our home, office, or library computers.
As you can imagine, a great deal of work goes into developing digital collections that support the needs and meet the expectations of today’s researchers. It requires the time and technical capability necessary to digitize the documents with care and precision, as well as thoughtfully developed organizational principles that will help users browse, search for, and find the materials relevant to their work. It also requires a spirit of collaboration among colleagues across departments, campuses, and—in some cases—institutions and organizations.
For a glimpse into this work, we invite you to go “behind the screens” with Gale as they show you the process involved in creating the Nineteenth Century Collections Online. You’ll hear about the evolution of online research and its effects on the organization, structure, and content in digital collections such as this. You’ll also have the opportunity to learn how Gale worked with partner archives and libraries, as well as a global advisory board, to design, organize, and build a collection that brings a wealth of rich information and research tools into the hands of users.
How has the digitization of primary-source material positively influenced the research that you and your students conduct? Share your stories below.